Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of obtaining a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Times reported Thursday that, according to Steven Ruiz, a former personal chef for the wide receiver, Brown had his girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, reach out to Ruiz over the summer to obtain a fake vaccination card saying he had received the Johnson & Johnson shot. According to text messages provided by Ruiz, Moreau offered $500 for a fake card.
Ruiz said he was unable to acquire a fake card for Brown but that the wide receiver a few weeks later showed him ones he had for him and Moreau that he said he had purchased.
Brown reportedly was unwilling to get the vaccine due to possible side effects. It is unclear if Brown later received a vaccination shot.
Brown’s lawyer denied Ruiz’s claim in a statement to the Times.
“Antonio Brown appreciates the severity of the pandemic, which is why he got the vaccine and supports everyone for whom it is advisable to get the vaccine,” Sean Burstyn texted the newspaper. “Coronavirus has hit close to home as it took him out of a game. He is healthy, vaccinated, and ready to win another Super Bowl.
“One of the worst parts of the pandemic has been a movement to cast doubt on our country’s vaccination programs with baseless, vindictive tabloid gossip.”
The Buccaneers declined to respond to questions from the Times. Moreau said she did not know Ruiz and denied his accusation.
Brown missed the Buccaneers’ Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19 four days before the game. He was activated the following week but has since missed the past three games with an ankle injury.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told the Times that any attempt to use a fake vaccine card could be disciplined under the league’s personal conduct policy. Brown also could face legal issues if he used a fake card.
Ruiz went public with the accusation after Brown failed to pay $10,000 owed to him.